A master’s in accounting unlocks a myriad of opportunities. Graduates can excel as financial analysts, auditors, tax specialists, controllers, or management accountants across diverse sectors like banking, healthcare, and government. Some pursue academia, shaping future accountants or researching accounting practices. Whether you want to deepen your knowledge in accounting and finance or you’re looking for a career change, a master’s in accounting may be right for you.

Equipped with advanced financial knowledge, graduates from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management navigate complex landscapes with ease. Proficiency in data analytics empowers them to interpret financial data, drive decisions, and mitigate risks. With doors open to a dynamic and rewarding career, a master’s in accounting promises growth, specialization, and meaningful contribution to today’s economy.

Man in a dress shirt on the phone in front of two computer screens with print outs of charts in front of him.

Top Accounting Careers: How to Determine the Right One for You

Choosing the right accounting career requires you to evaluate your strengths, interests, and goals. Candidates should assess their skills, such as analytical skills for roles like financial analysis or interpersonal skills for management accounting. Long-term aspirations, whether in climbing the corporate ladder or in specializing, also matter. Considering work environments—from demanding public firms to stable corporate roles—is crucial. By understanding what’s best for you, you can pursue a fulfilling and successful career in accounting.

Find Career Satisfaction in Accounting

Achieving career satisfaction in accounting involves pursuing a role aligned with your interests, skills, and values. According to a survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), job satisfaction is influenced by factors like work-life balance, growth opportunities, and meaningful impact. Research shows engaged accountants experience higher satisfaction levels. Additionally, the Journal of Accountancy highlights job autonomy, recognition, and advancement as crucial for career contentment. Prioritizing personal and professional growth in roles can enhance enjoyment and success.

Navigating Accounting Career Paths

Accounting careers offer diverse paths for undergraduates and graduate students.

  • Public accounting provides exposure to audit, tax, and advisory services with specialties like forensic accounting.
  • Corporate roles focus on financial management, including reporting and budgeting.
  • Government and nonprofit sectors emphasize financial compliance and accountability.
  • Specialized industries like healthcare and technology offer unique billing, revenue recognition, and financial analysis opportunities.

Exploring these paths aligns career choices with personal interests for a more fulfilling journey.

What’s Right for You: A Common or Nontraditional Accounting Career Path?

Types of careers in accounting involve traditional roles like staff accountants or financial analysts, leading to senior positions like financial manager or controller. Specializing in industries like healthcare offers unique opportunities, while nontraditional paths like forensic accounting or sustainability accounting provide innovative ways to make an impact. Assessing your interests and goals can lead to an even more fulfilling career in accounting.


Discover Additional Career Possibilities by Continuing Your Accounting Education

A bachelor’s degree in accounting can open many attainable roles, including staff accountant or financial analyst. Pursuing an MPS in Management – Accounting Specialization can lead to positions like financial manager or controller, offering increased responsibility and leadership opportunities. The program also provides additional credit hours required to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam; 150 college credits are required to sit for the exam.

Achieving further educational milestones, like acquiring a CPA credential, opens doors to becoming an auditor, tax consultant, or partner in an accounting firm. Each level of education enhances your skill set and qualifies you for more advanced and specialized positions in the accounting field.

Top Accounting Jobs by Salary

Accounting offers many different types of lucrative career opportunities.

Top-paying accounting jobs often require specialized skills, advanced degrees, and professional certifications. Below are 10 top accounting jobs along with their national average salaries, degree requirements, and high-level job descriptions.

Accounting degrees are a path to this type of salary; these are not entry-level or to be expected immediately after getting a Cornell degree.

Job TitleNational Average SalaryJob Description
Audit director$140,000+Manages audit processes and ensures the accuracy of financial records
Budget analyst$70,000+Prepares and analyzes budgets to support organizational planning
Chief financial officer (CFO)$200,000+Oversees financial activities, strategic planning, and financial reporting
Controller$120,000+Manages financial operations and ensures compliance with regulations
Cost accountant$75,000+Tracks and analyzes costs to improve efficiency and profitability
Financial analyst$85,000+Analyzes financial data, prepares reports, and advises on investment decisions
Forensic accountant$100,000+Investigates financial fraud and provides litigation support
Internal auditor$70,000+Evaluates internal controls and identifies areas for improvement
Tax director$150,000+Leads tax planning and compliance efforts for organizations
Senior accountant$65,000+Prepares financial statements, reconciles accounts, and analyzes financial data





These roles offer competitive salaries and opportunities for career advancement, making them attractive options for accounting professionals seeking prosperous career paths.

Within six months of attaining their degree, Johnson School graduates specializing in accounting have achieved impressive outcomes, as indicated by the MPS in Management – Accounting Specialization 2023 salary data. Of course, salaries vary, and international pay rates and cost of living differences in the international job market impact the overall salary average of Johnson School graduates. Overall, this data showcases the success and marketability of Cornell graduates in the accounting field, highlighting the value of their education and the opportunities it provides for professional growth and advancement.


Job Outlook: What Does the Accounting Career Landscape Look Like?

In 2024, the accounting career landscape in the United States continues to show promising growth and stability, driven by various factors shaping the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for accountants and auditors is projected to grow by 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for other occupations.

Overall, the accounting career landscape in 2024 presents promising opportunities for professionals with the necessary skills and qualifications, which they can achieve through the MPS in Management – Accounting Specialization curriculum. With continued demand for accounting services across various industries and the evolution of technological and specialized roles, individuals entering or advancing in the accounting field can expect a dynamic and rewarding career path ahead.

The Top 10 Essential Skills for a Thriving Accounting Career

  1. Analytical prowess: Ability to dissect complex financial data, identify patterns, and draw meaningful insights for informed decision-making
  2. Attention to detail: Meticulousness in maintaining accuracy in financial records and reports, ensuring precision in every calculation
  3. Technical proficiency: Mastery of accounting software such as QuickBooks and Excel and understanding of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting standards (IFRS)
  4. Clear communication: Ability to clearly articulate financial concepts to diverse stakeholders, ensuring comprehension and effective collaboration
  5. Ethical integrity: Unwavering adherence to professional codes of conduct, maintaining confidentiality, and upholding ethical standards
  6. Time management: Effective prioritization of tasks, meeting deadlines, and efficiently managing multiple responsibilities
  7. Continuous learning: Commitment to staying updated with industry trends and regulations and pursuing professional development opportunities
  8. Problem-solving: Aptitude for resolving financial discrepancies and navigating complex financial scenarios
  9. Adaptability: Flexibility to embrace changes in regulations, technology, and business practices and adjust strategies accordingly
  10. Teamwork: Collaboration with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders to achieve shared financial goals and foster a harmonious work environment

Start your Career with Ivy League Support

Beginning your career with Ivy League support provides invaluable benefits. The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business offers a suite of career resources tailored to students’ needs. From mock interviews to resume reviews and strategic career consulting, students receive comprehensive support to excel in the accounting industry. Explore Cornell University’s career resources to access these valuable tools and unlock your potential for a successful accounting career.


Where They’ve Gone: Explore the Impressive Careers of Johnson School Alumni

Johnson School master’s in accounting graduates have learned the skills required for today’s competitive job market. Many have landed roles at top firms, showcasing the program’s effectiveness in preparing students for success in the corporate world.

Headshot of Maria Lopez.

“Until you experience Cornell, it is hard to understand the opportunities that come from it. The Cornell network is so vast and international, you always have Cornellians who have your back.” — Maria A. Lopez ’18, MPS ’19

Headshot of Charles Mauser.

“I was able to expand my horizons not only in accounting, but also in finance and management, and really build my network.” — Charles Mauser MPS ’19

Find Your Place in Accounting

Graduating from the Johnson School’s MPS in Management – Accounting Specialization master’s program, you’re poised for success. You’ll set out on one of many promising paths in the accounting field, primed for growth, fulfillment, and financial success.